When You Feel that Rage

Please note: The following discusses postpartum depression in great detail and may be distressing to some. I want to note that at no point was anyone hurtaction was always taken prior to that point for the safety of both parties.

When I planned for the birth of both of my daughters, I made not one, but two, playlists for labor and delivery. The first playlist is likely what you would expect: soft, calming Christian music and some chant to calm me and help in breathing through contractions. The second playlist for both girls: hard rock music.

I make the second playlist because I have always used hard rock to power through hard things: late night papers and studying, workouts, cleaning my room, breakups. The second playlist is my “backup” playlist to pull out if the calming Christian music just isn’t cutting it.

Prior to Mariana’s birth, my husband sent me a song by Halocene titled, “Rage.” I listened, and put it on the backup labor and delivery playlist. At the time, I had no idea the role this song would end up playing after Mariana’s birth.

I felt isolated after Mariana was born. No one had offered to set up a meal train for us—I did it myself and pretended others had asked. Five people brought us meals after her birth (two of those were my parents and one set of my grandparents)—we were on our own beyond that. Additionally, doctors were excessively concerned about Mariana’s weight, so much so that I ended up taking Mariana to the doctor every day for four days in a row after her discharge from the hospital. At the final appointment, I was instructed to begin triple feeding: nurse, bottle feed, pump, every two hours. They had wanted me to come in yet again the next day, but Nick said that was enough and that we would seek a second opinion.

The regimen left me exhausted and with no time for naps or to myself whatsoever. I went the first six days home from the hospital without any naps. I was constantly anxious about Mariana’s weight gain. The extreme concern expressed by the doctors had led me to feel that Mariana might just waste away if I failed to continue this strict regimen. I have no doubt that this contributed to the development of my PPD and PPA. When we saw her new pediatrician, we were told that all of it had been unnecessary. I then spent the next month and a half working with an IBCLC to ensure that my supply didn’t drop off after weaning from triple feeding and helping Mariana learn to nurse.

When Madeleine was born, people stopped by and stayed with me for a bit. People helped unload our dishes. Meals came for the first four weeks after her birth. Beyond just one or two people took the time to really check in with me. Covid robbed all of that from us this time.

At first, I thought that my generalized anxiety was just getting worse. But, one night, after multiple night wakings and a day with no naps, it became very clear that it was more than that. This ran deeper.

Anger is an emotion that often points us to deeper issues. It is often an alarm telling us, “something’s wrong. This isn’t right. I need x, and I’m not getting it.” But if we don’t know that, when we feel deep anger, the type of anger that makes your blood boil, your cheeks flush, and drives your fist through a wall…it can scare us.

And that night, everything snapped. All illusions that I was ok went away. Exhausted, alone, and disconnected, the rage overpowered me. The intrusive thoughts began—those thoughts, the ones we are afraid to speak, afraid to ever admit (if you know, you know). I watched, as if outside of my own body, as I screamed at my sweet little baby and then realized I had terrified her. I tried breathing. I tried to calm myself. But the baby was still crying and my whole body was hot and shaking and I knew I couldn’t calm her in that state. And I felt like a failure for it.

So I took her downstairs, put her in the crib in the room down there, gave her her pacifier (I had already fed and changed her), shut the door, turned on the sound machine, went upstairs, cried, and took a twenty minute nap.

The next morning, I told my husband that I needed to get help.

I spent that day researching therapy options. I knew that the anger was an alarm signal that I was not ok, and prior to losing myself to that rage it had been easy to keep myself in denial. It was easy to pass things off as just a phase or as something I could power through. The fit of rage and screaming was my wake up call.

I began seeing a therapist through Talkspace. We went through some breathing exercises and made a plan for what would happen if I felt the rage and intrusive thoughts again. We worked through my guilt of leaving Mariana in her crib to cry when she was still a newborn so I could get even twenty minutes of sleep. We talked about my needs and what wasn’t being met, and brainstormed solutions to better meet those needs.

I remember feeling so alone and ashamed. I felt like a terrible mother. I felt like a failure. How could a mother scream at her baby? How could a mother have these thoughts about her baby? I wanted to just sink into a hole and go away for a long time.

The first time I no longer felt so alone was during another night waking. I was exhausted, and I pulled out my phone to keep myself awake. I found myself on instagram, and I searched, “postpartum rage.” And I read those posts, watched those stories, and I cried. It wasn’t just me. It wasn’t something I was doing wrong. I screenshot the stories that resonated the most, the ones that put into words what I did not know how to say, and sent them to my husband. “This is what I’ve been feeling,” I said to him, “I feel this rage, I fight these thoughts, I spend my whole existence fighting to keep these thoughts and this anxiety at bay, trying to convince myself that being here is better than being elsewhere, and I’m tired. I’m so tired.” It was the first time I’d been able to express myself to him in a way that he understood, because prior to that point, I hadn’t even understood it myself.

The first fit of rage wasn’t the last. But there was a plan: breathe, put the baby down in a safe place, put in ear plugs, set a timer, meet the need that isn’t being met, return to baby. It didn’t make the fits of rage any easier at first. But it made them something that I was gradually able to manage with more grace. I became better at identifying my needs. I started noticing triggers for the rage. The biggest one: lack of sleep. I made a plan to sleep train as soon as Mariana was five months (the age I’m comfortable with for sleep training. If you don’t support sleep training, fine, do what works for your family—I’ll do what will give me my sanity back). I started taking naps whenever possible and asking for the opportunity to nap. I let things go around the house so that I could focus on meeting my own needs. These were basic needs: shower, a nap, food, five minutes to myself. I’d been so depressed and anxious that I would forget to eat sometimes.

Through it all, I kept listening to the song “Rage,” as I focused on the refrain, “This ain’t the end, we’re here to stay / We rush into the unknown /Fearless and brave / So don’t throw it away, that rage / Won’t stop until sweet victory.” I tried to redirect my rage towards healing. I used it as motivation to be better for myself, my husband, and my two sweet girls. I worked through the guilt and the shame. I took a hard look at my wounds and brought them all to the Blessed Mother. I asked her to undo the knots of my heart.

As I worked through healing my mind, I worked through healing my body as well. And, after switching my meds again, I found myself able to walk and work out again. So, at the beginning of April, I began going to CrossFit. Suddenly, there was an outlet for all that energy and anger. I knew that at CrossFit I could show up, listen to loud music, and drop heavy things. At the end of some workouts, I found myself laying on the floor exhausted, but feeling better physically and mentally than when I had walked in the door. I found that I was getting stronger, and as my body became stronger, my mind did as well. I developed healthy outlets for my anger. I prioritized taking care of myself—which is more often self-discipline than bubble baths and manicures.

As my anxiety has eased up, I find that often anger has taken its place. Rather than becoming anxious about things, I become angry. While different in some ways than the blood boiling rage that happened in the height of my PPD, it is still new to me. I continue using many of the exercises I used at the height of my PPD to deal with this new type of anger. Prioritizing caring for oneself is not always easy, but it is always worth it.

As a Catholic and a woman, this type of rage carried a particular shame: the feeling that I was not only failing as a wife and a mother, but as a woman and as a Catholic. I felt that my rage embodied everything a woman, wife, and mother should not be. I felt that I was failing not only my spouse and my children, but God. I felt so deeply alone and ashamed.

So, if you have dealt with this, if you are experiencing this, I need you to hear me: You are not a failure. You are not alone. You are so incredibly strong. Through the grace of Christ with the Blessed Mother, you can get through this. You will get through this. It is ok to feel this rage. It is ok to need a safe outlet for the rage. It isn’t your fault—it’s lack of sleep, hormones, and the PPD or PPA that is causing this. It’s having unmet needs. So, first, get the help you need. Get medication if you need it. It’s ok if you need it. It’s also ok if you feel confident that you can address this without medication, so long as you are getting help and your psychologist/therapist agrees and supports you in that.

I am going to tell you what I would have wanted to hear: so many women deal with this. This is your Calvary right now, but we are an Easter people. We may not know when the resurrection will come, but it will come. You are so beautiful and you are the best mama for your kids. You are not a failure. By the grace of Christ, you are always enough, and Christ can heal all your wounds. Though it may not feel like it now, you are a great wife, and when you get through this, your marriage can be stronger if both you and your husband seek healing and the sacraments. Your life is worth living and worth living well, so don’t give up. Push through, and be amazed at the beautiful, strong, perservering woman that emerges in the end.

Go to the Blessed Mother, and tell her all your fears. Hold the rosary when you can’t pray it. Cry when you need to cry. Scream (away from others) when you need to scream. Be vulnerable—with Christ, with your spouse, with trusted friends. Though your world may be in darkness, I promise you—the resurrection will come. Dare to ask Christ to help you make it to the third day, and He will answer your prayers.

Trust: The Heart of NFP

I will forever remember the first time I tried to educate somebody else about NFP. I was explaining that NFP along with natural reproductive technology, or NaPro, could actually provide health solutions for most problems treated by the pill. My audience: my junior level morality class.

I am one of the first in a generation that has used NFP from a young age. Rather than immediately being put on the pill for the issues I was having with my cycle, my parents took me to see a NaPro doctor and a Creighton practitioner. And so at the young age of 16, I was familiar with signs of my fertility, the way in which a woman’s fertility worked, and the fact that my current hormone levels likely meant that I would struggle to have children if they continued at that level into adulthood.

I quickly saw the many uses of NFP. I saw how it benefited me greatly in preventing immense pain throughout my cycle. I wanted others to have this knowledge, too. Hence, the position in which I found myself: explaining NFP, a woman’s cycle, and the downsides of birth control to my junior morality class.

It was at that moment that I learned that many of my classmates were in fact on the pill. Mind you, this was a Catholic school. However, many of them had been put on the pill for various health issues. Most of these health issues could have been addressed by hormonal support provided through NaPro Technology. I’ll never forget the reaction though from the boys in the class who looked at me and booed me and Said to all the girls in the class “We don’t want to hear about your flow.”

Although comical now, it points to the issue of educating not only young men but also women about their health and fertility. Fortunately, my school decided to address this issue by bringing in a Creighton practitioner to talk to all the girls in the high school. Perhaps the young men could have benefitted as well.

As I became older, I found myself having discussions about NFP with my fiance. When we attended marriage preparation the way in which NFP was presented to us was a sort of prosperity gospel: use NFP and avoid kids when you want. But when you want kids, since you have been following God’s will, they will come easily!

However that wasn’t at all our experience. We faced infertility and all the struggles that went along with it. I wrote about that extensively in my infertility series that you can find here. If that is currently your struggle, know that I am praying for you.

Once we were finally blessed with our first child in 2018, we then switched to using NFP to avoid. That was not nearly as easy as it as it had been made to seem either. For both of us when I was postpartum it seemed that there were infinitely less available days for use than the happy, smiling, overly cheery couple at our marriage preparation had made it seem. There were likely many days that had been available to us but that I did not feel confident enough in using. I was using Creighton the first time postpartum, and since Creighton is a mucus only method, it became confusing postpartum. Postpartum cycles and fertility markers are very different than in normal cycles, which is why I’m using Marquette this time around.

In both cases, using NFP required trust. Trust that we would be carried through our suffering. Trust in the purifying fire of Christ’s love and suffering. Trust that any child would be a blessing, no matter that timing. Trust in one’s spouse to communicate. The center of NFP is trust, which is why this method can be difficult to embrace.

If you don’t trust your body, your spouse, or Christ, other forms of birth control can become tempting. And while there have certainly been times that birth control has seemed appealing, I know it would leave me feeling empty. It would remove the radical trust required in each intimate act. It would become a divide between us rather than something that requires continued communication and trust, as NFP has been for us.

I find that NFP mirrors the requirements of love: it requires self knowledge, communication, vulnerability, and trust to work effectively. How fitting that these elements are also required for a healthy and successful marriage. And so in using NFP to plan our family, we practice the very things needed for a strong marriage and indeed, a strong faith as well. For at the center of our fertility is Christ calling us to relationship with Him, calling us to walk on the waters, to put out into the deep, to trust in Him. Christ is calling us to know ourselves that we may know Him, to trust that we may be vulnerable with him, to be vulnerable with Him that we may be loved by Him. Will you answer His call?

Daring Greatly

I resigned my teaching position this past Tuesday.

It was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made, and yet, simultaneously, it has been one of the easiest.

It is hard to leave what we know. We like the familiar. We enjoy routine. And…we also like regular paychecks and the stability of having a current position. Additionally, I truly love teaching! It is a passion of mine, and there is nothing quite so rewarding as watching students studiously engage with Shakespeare after discovering that there is a treasure trove of bawdy jokes hidden underneath his foreign language and seeing a struggling student truly get a difficult concept for the first time. It is invigorating to see students engage in our current events through the lens of the classics, and I will truly miss that.

I gave a lesson to my students earlier this year about identity, in which I had them make identity charts to practice characterization. When making my own identity chart, I wrote the following, “daughter of God, wife, mother, teacher.” I told the students, “These are the four things that most define me, and they go in that order. I have to be a daughter of God before I can be a wife, a wife before I can be a mother, a mother before I can be a teacher.”

Our lovely Mariana Caeli was born in October, and I went on maternity leave. Mariana’s life has brought so much love and laughter into our home. She is so different from her older sister, Madeleine. Mariana is a quietly happy, sensitive soul. She reminds me to find the quiet and choose joy, while her sister Madeleine shows me the joy in exuberant laughter and persistence. Mariana’s life has in and of itself been a new beginning for our family.

It has not been without darkness, however.

At Mariana’s first well-appointment after we brought her, her pediatrician’s office had concerns about her weight. This prompted that pediatrician’s office to schedule office visits for the next four days in a row. They had me start a routine of triple feeding in which I nursed Mariana, gave her a bottle, and pumped, every 2-3 hours. They had no plan for me to stop this, though this is supposed to be a short term intervention lasting a maximum of 72 hours. They knew I had a history of anxiety, and yet, the urgency with which they were talking about Mariana’s weight made me feel that they were concerned that she might just waste away.

We switched pediatrician practices, and were told that all this was wholly unnecessary, but by that point, the damage had been done. My anxiety was on high alert, and now I needed to work with an IBCLC to stop this routine without absolutely destroying my milk supply.

Once the isolation of Covid was added in along with my chronic pain, it was a tried and true recipe for postpartum anxiety and depression.

Each week I was grateful to be home with my girls. And each week I dreaded going back to work. I began to have panic attacks about work. Would I be able to keep up with pumping? How would I fare with the commute? What about sleep? How could I take care of myself and be a good wife and be a good mom and be a good teacher?

I kept trying to turn off the thoughts and just enjoy the time. I kept telling myself, “I can do hard things. I can make it through this.” I felt so much guilt for dreading the return to work, because I truly do love teaching. I felt like I was drowning.

As I reflected and prayed on the matter, I recalled that I start each year with a lesson on Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech. For those unfamiliar, I’ve put it below:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

After reading the speech, I then prompt students to reflect on what it means to fail while daring greatly. We discuss the value of failure and the lessons that can be gleaned from it. We also discuss the final line, “so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” I ask them to consider what this may mean in light of their faith, and I lead them in discussing what it is to live their faith on fire for the Lord. We discuss the stories of the martyrs and look at how they have failed in the eyes of the world, but in the eyes of the Lord they know the “triumph of high achievement.” I want to instill in my students the value of failure and by doing so help them to embrace a radical vulnerability. I want them to welcome failure as a friend. To see failure as an opportunity for growth.

As I recalled this speech and the lessons I wish my students to clean from it, I had to ask myself: Am I daring greatly? Am I embracing the possibility of failure? Am I meeting life with a radical vulnerability?

And so last week, I reached out to my school to prepare for my return. And last week, they offered me a lifeline: the opportunity to resign if I felt I could not handle it. And as I reflected on the desire to be willing to fail while daring greatly and to be radically vulnerable, my decision became clear. I will be forever grateful to my administrators for their understanding.

Leaving was hard, not only because I felt an obligation to fulfill my contract, but also because I struggled with wondering if I was just giving up. I thought about my students, and I was sad that I wouldn’t see them again. But then I remembered what I had told them: “I have to be a daughter of God before I can be a wife, a wife before I can be a mother, a mother before I can be a teacher.” And then the decision became easy.

Throughout this entire postpartum period, I realize I have been consumed by fear. Fear of failure. Fear of giving up. Fear of being an imposter. Fear of being not enough.

I realized it was my fear holding me back. Would I be able to get a new position if I chose to return? If I took this time for myself and my family and explored these different things, would I fail? Would I be a terrible stay at home mom? Would I be able to break out of survival mode without my work?

And then I remembered the lesson I give each year on daring greatly and realized none of that matters.

It doesn’t matter if I fail. It doesn’t matter if no one likes my work. It doesn’t matter if I’m not always the best stay at home mom. What matters is that I try and do it anyway in spite of my failures, so that I will not be one of the poor and timid souls that know neither victory nor defeat.

And so when I focus on daring greatly, I am so excited about the possibilities ahead of me. I am going to be writing here about life, faith, fitness, and motherhood. I’m going to chronicle my journey with postpartum anxiety and my fitness journey. I have the Great Books series planned out! I am going to explore freelance options and tutoring. I’m going to work on my novel. I have some exciting projects planned that I will eventually be able to share with you all. And most importantly, I am going to focus on getting myself well again so that I can be a daughter of God, a wife, and a mother to two beautiful girls. Once I am well again, I will consider returning to teaching.

Anxiety has been my dragon, but I know that it is a dragon I can slay with God, my husband, and my family all rallying to my support. And rather than living in fear, today I choose a new beginning. I choose to see an opportunity for growth during this period.  I will embrace opportunities for failure. I will embrace vulnerability. Most importantly, I choose to dare greatly, for it is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or how the doer of deeds could have done them better. Rather, the credit belongs to the man in the arena, for if he fails, he fails while daring greatly.

To Be a Light

A Short Story about St. Maximilian Kolbe

You didn’t know me. 

            You didn’t know my name, my heritage, my religion.  You knew that I had a wife and two sons after I cried out, begging humanity for mercy.  You knew that I faced certain death amidst the harsh, cold, prison walls.  You did not know what sort of death awaited; you only knew that death was certain.   

            Yet amidst that blood-streaked gray sky, you raised your hand as I stood in front of the crowd looking out.  You walked forward, moving closer to me. You moved steadily towards what could only be death, and for what?  To save a man whom you felt had more to lose than yourself. 

            You looked at me, your eyes filled with clarity.  You moved amidst the crowds, pushed through the throngs of people, walked up to the soldiers clothed in green.  The hundreds present were silent—in that moment, the world seemed to stop.   

            The gates were foreboding and grim and spoke of death.  The wind howled and roared against the barren wooden barracks.  The entrance to this forsaken place was filled with a lie.  You knew this, you knew that you were condemned, you knew that you were the walking dead, and yet you spoke. You dared to look them in the eye, you dared to bring light into the dismal darkness of a never-ending gray night.  You did not quiver in your speech, did not hesitate, you breathed those words as if they were not even a thought. 

            Your voice was clear and strong, “I am a Catholic priest.  Let me take his place.”  The words echoed through the darkened, hallowed camp.  Never was there so deep a silence amongst that somber mill of death.  You were being led to your death.  Later we would learn that you were locked in that tight, cold, barren, iron cell for two weeks as they attempted to starve you to death.  You watched as the other nine around you died.  You watched and you prayed.  And as you prayed, they watched you.  We now know that they watched you and tried to kill you, starve you, deny you of water—but you lived.  You would not die, and they were mystified.  You prayed for their souls, for your murderers, for those whom others would call merciless bastards.  In your last moments, you prayed for mercy.  While you were present in that cell, those iron bars were your chapel, the concrete floor your altar. 

           You extended your arm to receive the lethal injection.  I wonder if you knew that they were tired of waiting.  They told us that you did not flinch, but reached out to them, almost as if to embrace them with God’s Mercy.  Later accounts would say that you looked at them with love as they extended to you only carbolic acid.  You died praying.  You died in silence amidst a hall of murder as a martyr of charity, as others would later come to know you. 

            You did not know that my sons would be lost to the war.  You could only pray from the heavens as I remained in that camp for over five years.  You did not know if I would only be put to death another death another day, but that didn’t matter to you.  You looked at me and saw a human, where others saw a worker.  You looked at me and saw a soul, where others saw only weak flesh and bones.  You didn’t have to say anything, but you chose to give life by sacrifice, to sacrifice to generate hope, to hope to be a light. 

Beauty in the Broken

I have often struggled with feeling broken and betrayed by my body.

It began with our struggle with infertility and my anxiety, when I felt that because my body would not carry a child, that not only was I broken, that I wasn’t fulfilling my vocation as a woman and spouse.

When I became a mother, during my pregnancy I thought to myself, “now, finally, I am healed.” As I passed each milestone, and birth came closer and closer, I let go of those feelings of brokenness and rejoiced in my body. My body was creating life, and I rejoiced in the pains and struggles of pregnancy, because I no longer felt betrayed by my body.

I thought that feeling of brokenness and betrayal by my body would change definitively with my daughter’s birth. I thought her birth would heal that wound, the feeling that my body had betrayed me.

And yet, after Madeleine’s birth, that wound remained.

I was a mother now. Everything we had prayed for had happened. Her birth was beautiful. Madeleine was even born on her due date, the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel after I’d prayed a novena to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel that she would arrive on time.

And yet, in all that joy, I was drowning.

My body was a stranger to me. Nothing prepared me for how different my body felt to me after Madeleine’s birth. And then on top of that, Madeleine would scream when I tried to feed her. It sometimes took an hour and a half just to feed her.

It was then that I started to notice my hands.

I remember a reflection during our marriage prep that asked you to hold your betrothed’s hands. It asked you think about how these hands, the hands holding your own, would be the hands to care for you when you were sick, to comfort you in times of difficulty, to hold and love your children.

After Madeleine’s birth, my hands ached. They were constantly stiff and sore. I blamed having to take hours to nurse Madeleine and constantly hold her in the same position. But it kept getting worse. I thought perhaps my De Quervains Syndrome (like carpal tunnel) was returning and was sure that after a time it would get better.

Then my shoulders started to ache. I blamed my ring sling, and stopped wearing it. But the pain remained. I couldn’t lift my hands above my head without pain. I blamed having to sit in the same position for hours to feed Madeleine.

But then one night, Madeleine woke up crying. She needed to be fed. And I struggled to get to her.

I struggled to move myself out of bed. My whole body was stiff and sore. Madeleine’s crying became louder and louder. I felt terrible. And then, when I finally got to her, I realized I couldn’t pick my baby up out of her crib.

I woke up Nicholas, who brought Madeleine to me in the rocking chair. I could barely hold her, even with my nursing pillow. It was that night that I realized something was terribly wrong.

About two months after that night when my hands refused to work (this past November), I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

The doctor explained that my immune system had started to attack my joints. I would need to be on an immunosuppressant indefinitely. She explained that it was probably my pregnancy that had triggered the autoimmune disease.

And once again, I felt betrayed by my body.

My pregnancy and Madeleine’s birth had started to heal the wounds of betrayal I had felt after almost two years of infertility. Suddenly, those wounds were cut open again. My body was literally attacking itself. It wasn’t functioning as it should, again, and it was affecting my ability to care for my daughter. I was angry, I was hurt, I was broken.

But if there’s anything I’ve learned from infertility, it is that there is beauty in brokenness.

My body had betrayed me again, but I decided that wouldn’t stop me from being a good mother, from being a good wife, from being a daughter of God. Instead, I tried to turn to the Cross. I repeated to myself in times of weakness, “this is my body, given up for you.” I repeated it when it was difficult to pick up my daughter. I repeated it when I struggled to feed my daughter because my hands ached. I repeated it when I woke in the middle of the night to Madeleine crying, needing me, and my body was stiff again. I repeated it when I looked in the mirror and was unhappy with my body because my arthritis had prevented me from exercising until my medication started working.

I decided that my RA would not change how I parent, would not change my fitness goals, would not change my vocation, would not change my faith. I began researching ways to heal my body through diet and exercise. I have set a goal for myself to run a Spartan race either this summer or fall. I have decided to show my daughter that having a chronic illness does not mean that you cannot be active, that you cannot do extraordinary things, that you cannot lead a life of adventure and faith.

I started trying to take care of myself. I began a new diet about two months ago to help with inflammation. I purchased an exercise program to help heal and strengthen my core from pregnancy. I’m going to be blogging more often as part of self care and posting updates about my progress with training and treatment of RA. I’ve been trying to pray more often and focus on joy and acceptance.

We cannot choose our crosses. I do not know yet what purpose this cross carries, but I know that when we received news of my diagnosis and told my husband, that he had a profound sense of peace. “We need this,” he said.

I remember the reflection given during our marriage preparation now whenever I look at my hands and the hands of my husband. For although my hands are sometimes inflamed and in pain, I know that Christ has gifted me my husband to be my hands and feet when my own will not work. Before I was a mother, I felt broken because of our struggles to have a child. I felt betrayed by my own body, angry that my body wasn’t working as it ought, crippled by my body’s brokenness. Now, I feel broken because there are some days when my whole body aches. And yet, I know that I need this. I need to remember that I am broken, that I am weak, that I am wounded. Because in my brokenness, I am reminded to look at Christ on the Cross.

God gives us what we need. He challenges us, and allows us suffering so that we might realize our littleness. So that we might turn to the Cross, see Christ bloody, bruised, and beaten, and know in our hearts the great sacrificial love of Christ for us. Christ on the Cross shows us the profound depths of God’s love for us, and will always stand as a reminder to us all that there is immense beauty in the broken.